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Luis Valdez's Play, Los Vendidos Essay

2006 words - 8 pages

In his play, "Los Vendidos," Luis Valdez addresses, through humor and stereotypes, the issues faced by Mexicans in America throughout history. Although a "White Washed Mexican" woman is supposedly looking for a Mexican, what she is actually looking for is an American with darker skin. The key word here is American, as she is looking for someone who has denied his or her Mexican roots and become acculturated to the American way of life. This woman does not want a Mexican for any other reason than the fact that he is Mexican, and she has no respect for his heritage.

The scene opens as a woman who works for the government walks into a shop that sells "Mexicans." She is looking for a Mexican for their administration. In the prologue of the play, this woman is designated a "White Washed Mexican," as she denies her Mexican roots, and pretends to be an Anglo. When she enters the store, she introduces herself as Ms. Jiminez (pronounced Jimmy-Nez, rather than the actual pronunciation, Hime-nez). Through the way that she pronounces her name, it is clear that she denies her Mexican heritage.

One important aspect of the play is the adjectives that Ms. Jimenez uses to describe the Mexican that they would like to use as their prototype. Such adjectives are: "suave, debonair, dark (not too dark, but beige), sophisticated, respectable, someone with class." All of these adjectives could describe a Mexican male, but not one that has been affected by American society. As the Mexican male attempts to become a part of American society, he soon realizes that he is not welcome, which often causes him to rebel against the culture that will not accept him. An example is the Zoot Suit Riots that occurred in 1944. The Zoot Suit Riots were a reaction by young Mexican-American males against a culture that did not want them to be a part of it. Stuart Cosgrove examines this issue when he states, "In the most obvious ways they had been stripped of their customs, beliefs and language (Vargas 317)." These youths were going through an identity crisis because they did not know which culture they could identify with. Vicki Ruiz explored the acculturation of young Mexican American women, which was similar to that of young men, in the 1920s and 1930s and states that it "...reveals the blending of the old and the new, fashioning new expectations, making choices, and learning to live with those choices (Vargas 271)." It is true that they were Mexican Americans, but many did not have strong ties to their native countries, as a document by Raúl Morín states, "The so-called 'Spanish’ were in many instances accused of being ashamed of the term 'Mexican.' Being native-born and raised Americans, they never felt any sentiment for Mexico....they had never lived there....(Vargas 305)." Although this quote refers to those who fought in World War II, it was during the same time period that the Zoot Suit Riots were occurring. If they did have strong ties to their native country, then they...

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